Tag Archives: help me investigate

A review of Help Me Investigate in 2013 – and learning from it in 2014

Help Me Investigate logo

Over on the Help Me Investigate Blog there’s a review of the project’s activities over the past year across its four sites: Health, Olympics, Education and Welfare.

Four site editors landed jobs in the media during the year, which was particularly nice to see, but also meant we lost a certain amount of continuity. Learning from that, this year I’ll be focusing the project’s efforts particularly on welfare issues such as child poverty, housing, food poverty, and the one year anniversary of the bedroom tax.

If you want to get involved, please contact carol@helpmeinvestigate.com or tweet us for a follow on Twitter @carolmiers and @paulbradshaw.

Three book reviews: leaks, FOI, and surveillance

Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark book cover
This Machine Kills Secrets book cover

If you’re interested in leaks, surveillance or FOI, three book reviews I wrote over the last two months on the Help Me Investigate blog recently might interest you:

What’s happening here?

You may have noticed that I’ve moved/redirected Online Journalism Blog back to its old place on WordPress.com. This is to give it a reliable hosting place while I move web host (open to recommendations – apart from GoDaddy, which is the host I am leaving) and possibly platform (I’m hoping Ghost will be available soon enough to move to that).

Although I have copied across some content, many of the posts from 2008 (when I left WordPress.com) are not on this site. If you are looking for a post that isn’t here, please do the following:

Meanwhile, most of my blogging will be done over at the Help Me Investigate Blog.

2 how-tos: researching people and mapping planning applications

Mapping planning applications

Sid Ryan’s planning applications map

Sid Ryan wanted to see if planning applications near planning committee members were more or less likely to be accepted. In two guest posts on Help Me Investigate he shows how to research people online (in this case the councillors), and how to map planning applications to identify potential relationships.

The posts take in a range of techniques including:

  • Scraping using Scraperwiki and the Google Drive spreadsheet function importXML
  • Mapping in Google Fusion Tables
  • Registers of interests
  • Using advanced search techniques
  • Using Land Registry enquiries
  • Using Companies House and Duedil
  • Other ways to find information on individuals, such as Hansard, LinkedIn, 192.com, Lexis Nexis, whois and FriendsReunited

If you find it useful, please let me know – and if you can add anything… please do.

Notes on setting up a regional newspaper datablog

Behind the Numbers - Birmingham's regional datablog

I’ve been working recently with the Birmingham Mail to launch Behind The Numbersa new datablog project with Birmingham City University supported by Help Me Investigate. I’m told that it is probably the UK’s first regional newspaper datablog, although whether that’s a meaningful claim is debatable*.

The first story generated by the project – what is the worst time to be seen at A&E – was published in the newspaper a week ago. But it’s what happens next that’s going to be interesting. Continue reading

Does your class want to collaborate on an investigation?

Do you have students or classes who want to do something investigative but lack support or ideas?

Next week students in Birmingham, Portsmouth and Strathclyde will be starting new investigations focused on education and the arts. Their focus will be local, but by exchanging notes the investigations should be quicker, easier, and potentially bigger.

They’ll be supported by new editors at Help Me Investigate Education who have put together the list of potential investigations, along with mentors from the media industry.

If that sounds like something useful – or you have an investigation you’d like them to help you with – contact me at paul@helpmeinvestigate.com

PS: Further supporting this is a free resource on teaching collaborative journalism, and an accompanying pack for students.